04 August 2012

The big test day arrives

Again with the gap between posts - oops! So, since then I've done lots! May 2012 - Got the firewall panels welded in. I originally thought about full seam welding but they're probably just going to get a bead of Sikaflex/seam-sealer both sides and then painted over. Photo from the front also shows the welded in panels in the "arm-rest" sill panels. That's all the structural parts of the chassis complete, so time to find out where the B&T jig is and get twisting! 26 July 2012 - Important milestone today. Don't have the actual report yet but, based on the trial runs Paul and I did last night, it exceeds the required 3800Nm/degree (and 1.25mm beaming) quite comfortably. That's 285kg of besser blocks and chunks of scrap steel on the hook for the torsion test - the angle (or lack) of the beam in the last pic may give you some idea of the stiffness (oooh, errr missus). Many, many thanks to Paul Hannell for both the use of his workshop and his ongoing technical assistance and to Don Myles for his assistance today lifting besser blocks on and off (and on and off and.....). 27 July 2012 - Got a phone call from the engineer, who obviously knew I was sitting like an expectant father waiting for results. 5828 Nm/degree and 0.3mm beaming distortion. His remark? "You could put a V8 in that if you wanted!" Quite pleased at this point. Now that I know the chassis doesn't need to change, the real work can begin.

21 March 2012

Long overdue update!

Anyone just reading my blog updates would assume I'd given up on the car or something. Not so - I've just got more into the habit of posting updates on the various car forums I frequent and not here. I need to remind myself to update the blog too whenever I post an update elsewhere.
April 2011 - After several iterations, got to a final design for the rear wishbone balljoint plates. Here they are CNC cut with slight grooves to assist vise bending; and one folded and bolted into the wishbone jig.
Final product all TIG welded then painted; showing the underside of the folded part; and with the ball joint mounted.
Bolted together one whole set of rear suspension with the wishbone brackets clamped on the chassis to check. Very pleased to measure static camber at about 1 degree negative, with some range in the strut adjustment to go further. That's what all of the design work said it should be but reality has a way of proving me wrong sometimes. Pic of the whole assembly below, plus another showing the inclined entry angle in the Corolla upright, explaining the "odd" angle of the ball joint and wishbone.

Got some encouragement/assistance from a friend. End result - rear suspension brackets aligned and fully welded.

Plus, he helped me flip the chassis over so I could finish some of the underside welds. After they were done, I flipped it back and dragged it off the build table and stuck some front suspension on too.

Don't look too closely at the welding on those brackets. Need grinding out and redoing with the chassis at a more workable angle
Another friend came around to nudge me forward, with the end result being that we cut, folded, and fitted two of the three fixed firewall panels. Not welded yet. Made from 1mm steel, with a 10mm lip folded round the edge to make welding easier. Would be fair to say the second one was easier and a better result than the first.
Also played another round of "Stop Dominic over-analysing solutions to non-existent problems" which means that something I'd been fussing about possible solutions to for 12+ months was solved today by simply not doing it! Was quite liberating once I got used to the idea.
August 2011 - Time for a small update. Unfortunately, discovered that (due to a measurement error) my bottom wishbone brackets are in the wrong place. As a result, with the camber adjusters wound in as far as they'll go, I can get no more than 0 camber. I've been fiddling with other things while stewing on this. In the end, got another set of brackets (thanks Paul) and set to work. Out with the old
Work out what size packer it needs
Suspension jig actually lines up properly now (shouldn't have ignored the mismatch originally).
With end result I can bolt together the rest of the front end. Need to finish rack mounts now.
Yet another friend came round to hurry me along and give much needed assistance/guidance on a few areas. Result? Primary roll hoop trimmed to size, base plates made and welded, and roll bar fully welded. Also visible in this photo, the perforated hoop around the dash/scuttle bulkhead is now all welded.
There's a second bar to sit parallel to the main hoop and form the back braces. Here it's sitting not quite fully trimmed and mounted. It's actually been bent slightly too narrow (probably the fault of my drawings to the supplier) so Paul took it with him to stretch open a bit (with a porta-power). Only needed to move by 10mm or so. Angled base plates for the rear hoop are made and fully welded in, ready for the bar itself.

December 2011 - In the pursuit of more progress, the Gecko has taken up temporary residence in a friend's workshop, where I'll work on it but with access to better tools and (much) better expertise than at home. Plan is: knock off work at 3:30 every Tuesday and do 4-odd hours plus other nights and some weekend time as available (and as suits the proprietor).

January 2012 - Have had a couple of bursts of productivity over the last few weeks. Mocked up the position of the inner toe-link mounts at the rear. Used the engine hoist to run the suspension up and down through full travel while checking bump steer. Waiting on some LH female rod ends to arrive now. Will add some pics of the final bracket and adjuster once they're done.

Today was rack positioning. After some faffing about, took the 9" grinder to a pair of diagonal tubes that were in the way. Made things much easier after that. Stuck some temporary rails under the rack and fiddled with various packing pieces until the right position was established. With a small laser pointer strapped to the stub axle (pointing out to the side) total bump steer (all toe-in) was 5mm measured at 3.6m away. That'll do alright. Next step is to mount the column again and find the correct rack angle, then make permanent mounts.

February 2012 - Nnocked out these two rack brackets, which will perch on some light transverse tubes and get a transverse stiffening brace across the back as well. Looks like Gemini and Escort racks share basically identical mounting dimensions so quick-rack upgrades should be a doddle.
Cleaned up the remains of the cut-off diagonal tubes, fitted the two 20mm cross rails, and made a stiffening web to tie the two rack brackets together. Dry fitted for now, will post another shot without the rack once it's all welded up.
Finished welding up the rack mount in the bench and spent a fair bit of time getting it properly positioned in the chassis before welding it in. Some finish welding to do once the chasis is flipped into a more accessible position. End result is stiff and light.

March 2012 - Slow progress because the semester has started and work pressures ramped up accordingly. Still, have managed to twiddle around with engine mounts and got to this point....
That's it sitting/hanging on the four tacked in mounts. Everything was put together with the drivetrain centred (i.e. equal length driveshafts). Now that it's in, it's readily apparent that it can/should go left quite a bit. So, this weekend I'll pull the engine, knock off the tacked mounts and shift everything left a few inches. Will make for a much happier level of access around the accessory end of the motor. If I don't do it, it'll just piss me off forever more
OK, knocked all the mounts off the chassis, shifted the front and rear ones to the left by ~70mm, remade the left and right mounts to suit. Done.

Made some progress towards mounting pedals tonight - nothing worth taking a pic of though. Did do a test fit of an almost completed part (one of a pair) however that was definitely worth photographing!

And that gets us back up to date!

19 August 2010

Realised I hadn't posted anything here for 6 months. Work has been proceeding on the car - as slowly as usual :). Here's a few updates.

Top front wishbone parts in the jig and finished product

Same for bottom front wishbones

Need to finish the parts and jigs for the rear wishbones and get them welded soon. Then all of the various brackets can get welded to the chassis, the suspension bolted together and the car sit on it's own wheels for the first time!

Off to the Leyburn Sprints in the morning so another weekend not spent in the workshop I suppose. Sometimes, having fun is more important.

Anyway, till next time.

16 February 2010

Tired - Oh so very tired :(

Well, the 6 weeks leave got canceled for work and I stumbled through the end of the year tireder than ever. The leave is re-booked for March/April and should (all things being equal) let me actually get some quality time in on the car. We did sneak a whole three days off work in November to go to the Nationals and it was well worth it.

A member on one of the forums I frequent ribbed me (gently) about my slow progress and, perhaps because it touched a nerve, I replied quite honestly with my feelings on the matter, as follows:

To me, progress requires the convergence of three different sets of resources - Temporal, Physical, & Emotional. I need to simultaneously have the time, the money (or materials or whatever), and the mental enthusiasm to achieve anything.

For a very long time, I had no physical resources - no money, no materials, not even space to work although I had time and enthusiasm to spare. Eventually, changes in my work and household situation meant more money etc was available but with a contingent loss of time and energy. For the last six or twelve months I've had the money and I've often even had the time but mental energy is at an all time, soul crushing, low. And trying to work on the car when I really, really don't feel like it just makes it worse. So I don't.

It's a hobby. It'll be finished when it's finished. If it has a deadline, it's a job, and I already have one of those.

20 September 2009

I'm not dead!

Just a quick post to let those few who may be checking this blog occasionally - I am still alive :)

My day job is eating me alive at present and I can't see things slowing down much before the end of the year. I have got six weeks of leave booked before then but part of that will be overseas and another week (with travel) at the Clubman Nationals in Jindabyne. Throw in a bit of time with family etc and the car isn't going to get much attention.

That said, I've been making (slow) progress on some design issues, particularly the tail end of the car. If I find the time I need for it, I'll draw it in Sketchup and post it here for comment.

And now, back to work. Yes, right now, At 11:30pm on a Sunday, I'm logged in to work checking things :(

04 May 2009

Another catchup post with a wide variety of things:

- Apologies to a couple of people who had made comments that hadn't appeared. I didn't notice them waiting for approval and Blogger (apparently) didn't send me an email to say they where there.

Feb 2009 - Re-posting this here from where it has already appeared on OzClubbies etc.

The Parable of the Plates

In the month of February an angel visited Dominic, giving to him several shining metal plates. And great was the beauty of these plates for they had been cut not by human hands but by the artificers of Sea-En-Sea. And Dominic did gaze upon the plates and knew that they were good for they had been made to The Plan.

And six were the plates in number but only three in shape for they had been made in pairs. And clear from their shape was their destiny. And this destiny was to be permanently joined to the Bay of the Engine, thence to work tirelessly at support and bracing.

And Dominic held the plates to the chassis, even though it still remains partial and unformed as it has been, and will be, eternally. And the plates did fit - verily, so close was the fit that he did exclaim, saying "That's pretty snug. You couldn't get a fanny hair in that gap". And great was his pleasure at this fitting.

And then he didst say to himself "Bugger, how am I going to drill 16mm holes in alignment when the tubes are already welded into the chassis". And his disappointment at this poor planning was much. But, familiar with pain and struggle in the service of the revered Clubman, he didst regather himself and cogitated for some time. And this cogitation was helped by the application of soothing waters bearing the Holy names Coonawarra and Macaren Vale. And the cogitation did bear fruit and he awakened saying "The bloody plate can be it's own drill guide".

So he did clamp the plates firmly and many were the checkings of alignment. And then applied to them did he the 16mm holesaw and great was his fear, saying aloud, "If I f*ck this up, there'll be all kinds of trouble". But the soothing waters had steadied his hand and the drill ran true. And at last the holes were complete and wide was the distribution of coolant from the drilling.

And he rested from this labour, saying "Now I just need to weld the crush tubes, and then the plates, then finish the rest of the rear brace, and the other set of side tubes, and the pedal box brackets, and the other column mount, and......". So great was this list of incomplete things that he was rendered insensible and thus did his wife find him, staring at the wall and muttering. And she didst guide him away and render more soothing waters until he did sleep.

Seriously (?!), a mate CNC cut these plates from my MDF templates and, after a couple of test iterations in acrylic, the steel ones are now lined up ready for welding. Paul H made me some nice little crush tubes and the whole shebang will give me a very solid but removable back edge for the engine bay. And, if I ever stop working 60+ hours a week, I might actually find time to weld it all together.

More in the next posting

21 September 2008

A bit of a gap between postings I see. I've been busy, busy with work and family so there hasn't been lots of visible progress on the car (which is not to say there's nothing going on - it's just not all that noticeable).

However, I got my suspension plates back from anodising during the week and (with a little help from Paul - thanks mate) I got the spherical bearings pressed into the moving plate and the retainer circlips installed. That meant I could hang the plate and a complete strut assembly in the chassis for the first time. Having done that, I hoisted up a wheel and had a look at that too - very nice. Still lots to do but it feels good to have a wheel hung (sort of) on the chassis - makes it seem more "real".

Here's the plates with their nice anodised finish:

The strut hung in the chassis at roughly ride height:

and two views of the wheel mounted up:

22 July 2008

Engine test fit

Didn't get to cutting brace tubes tonight. My mate James came over to inspect progress and we ended up swinging the motor and gearbox up into the newly created engine bay to check clearances etc. In general it's all pretty good although I'll probably need a remote oil filter because the factory location lines up with a chassis rail and will probably be impossible to remove.

Anyway, here's a pic of the engine in place.

Still need to cut and fit the four side braces and I'll probably do the two top front braces at the same time. They'll run from the strut towers forward to the middle of the front of the engine bay.

More soon.